Church stoked tithing with unemployment scam, ex-members say


By MITCH WEISS and HOLBROOK MOHR
Related Press

SPINDALE, North Carolina (AP) – Former members of an evangelical North Carolina church say their chief coerced congregants into submitting false unemployment claims after the faltering financial system threatened weekly tithes from church-affiliated corporations. The members say firm house owners who have been leaders within the Phrase of Religion Fellowship church would file unemployment claims on staff’ behalf, however that the workers would proceed working.

Eleven former followers advised The Related Press that they participated within the plan. They estimated that the fraudulent claims would have drawn funds totaling within the tons of of hundreds of dollars between 2008 and 2013.

State officers say such claims can be unlawful, and the previous congregants stated that they had been interviewed by state and federal investigators.

The unemployment allegations have been uncovered as a part of the AP’s prolonged, ongoing investigation into the church, based mostly in Spindale, North Carolina.

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